Península de Setúbal, Portugal
unknown varietal(s), 13% alc.
$5 at both the Oakland and Berkeley, CA stores
Other than Port, I am embarrassed to admit that I had never tasted a Portuguese red before; for $4 on sale, I was able to remedy that situation pretty painlessly. I was familiar with this region for their sweet fortified wines, the Moscatel de Setúbal, which are similar to the Boncaillou Muscat I reviewed earlier this month and can be very fine; in fact, perhaps embarrassingy for the French, a Portuguese Moscatel de Setúbal won the 2011 Muscats du Monde contest in France.
But I digress…on to the Tinto. Popped and poured, this wine was a very dark brick red with a big initial attack of farmyard funk in the nose followed by gamey, meaty and savory notes, with some fruit finally peeking out. The flavors on the palate were also savory, with some umami and cherry fruit, but this wine is very austere and a bit acidic. The body is surprisingly light given the color, and the tannins are very soft; I’m guessing it spent some time in an older barrel, as there is the vinuous quality I associate with wood aging but no overt oakiness. On the second day, the funk had blown off, and the nose was more restrained, but more fruit (raspberry/cherry) came through. The palate seemed to have deepened and smoothed out, with more fruit evident. I really enjoyed this wine with a cheese plate, which of course I also got at Gross Out: Huntsman (Double Gloucester layered with Stilton) and Rougette (a Bavarian red brie), both excellent. The Barão is a definite repeat buy for me and should be tried by fans of European wines with flavors and textures different from your typical California fruit bomb.
Update 3/16: Today it was all gone at the Oakland store, but there’s still a couple of cases at the Berkeley store.